Why You Need a Partner to Navigate Metal Additive Manufacturing

by | Apr 6, 2022 | Business Drivers

The world of metal additive manufacturing (AM) can be complex no matter how seasoned a team is. Organizations face countless challenges integrating metal AM into their production workflows; but these are challenges that can be overcome with the guidance of an experienced partner familiar with the ins and outs of the industry as well as the requirements of component manufacturing.

For many providers that work in the metal AM space, there is a clear goal: selling printers. Once that machine has been sold, their job is done; and you, the client, is left to figure out how best to use the printer for your purposes.

At Velo3D, we gauge our success on the success of our customers. To peek behind the curtain a little, when our customers have worked with Velo3D and achieved their design goals, regardless of whether a machine sale is made, we succeed because it means there is demand for our printers which are needed to execute those designs. As a result, we do everything we can to guide them through the metal AM process, from design considerations to supply chain concerns, and form a foundation of understanding of the metal AM landscape allowing the customer to determine the best path forward for success even if that means not to use AM.

To achieve these goals, we have dedicated teams in sales and technical business development whose entire mission is to shepherd this process: providing the fundamental knowledge of Velo3D’s capabilities to enable design and production of core parts from beginning to end.

A Focus on Understanding in Metal AM

One of the main challenges organizations face is not understanding the capabilities of metal 3D printing. Because it’s a complicated process with multiple phases and partners, it can seem either impenetrable, or it can be sold as a cut-and-dry manufacturing system with the ability to magically transform operations.

When Velo3D takes on a new partner—particularly a client who has limited or no experience with metal AM—our main goals are to educate on the capabilities of the technology, understand the objectives of the project, and build a clear path to achieving the desired outcomes.

Our business development teams, beginning with technical sales, work as partners in this education, evaluation, and coordination process. When you become a Velo3D partner, our team works with yours to fully evaluate the scope of the project. This evaluation includes assessing existing design files and part geometries, educating customers how to adapt and optimize designs for 3D printing, discussing material considerations as well as any other quality or qualification or industry-specific standards for the part. With this foundation in place, our team is able to build a clear path to production—in direct coordination with your team—including timelines and cost estimates.

With initial design and material plans in place, Velo3D then connects you with our global network of contract manufacturers to produce development prints to ensure that the required parts meet the desired outcomes. Because of our relationships, knowledge, and experience in the industry, we’re able to act as a conduit for your team throughout the entire process, coordinating design and production decisions to help build the exact part needed and remedy any challenges that come up along the way.

Velo3D’s business development teams encompass all scopes of production. Where tech sales may serve as an entry point into metal 3D printing, our technical business development team is engineered for scale. This team operates in much the same way as tech sales, but with a focus on companies who have immediate or near term need to develop components and bring them to production scale rapidly. Instead of focusing on the design and production of a short run of a few parts, technical business development works with customers to understand their needs and roadblocks then creates pathways to address the identified hurdles and enable manufacturing, for example, of larger runs of dozens of parts. This collaboration also seeks to identify future material needs including new alloys, material properties and testing, as well as geometric capability.

The Velo3D Process in Practice

As an example, let’s outline what this business development process looks like in practice. First, we’re approached by a company; for these purposes it’s a company with limited experience in metal AM in an industry that requires shorter runs of parts with complex geometries.

First, Velo3D assigns a technical sales engineer to be the go-to point of contact for the company. We then hold a meeting where our engineer is given a high-level overview of the project; discussions at this phase include material considerations as well as the types of parts and quantities of parts that need to be produced.

At any point during this engagement, the company can send over any existing CAD models for evaluation with the Velo3D team. Our team takes those models and provides in depth analysis on the design and suggestions on how to optimize the design to extract the most value out of the Velo technology.

With proposed design and material considerations in place, the Velo3D engineer coordinates with the company and our network of contract manufacturers to deliver and vet requests for quotes (RFQs). Working with our network of contract manufacturers allows the customer to utilize the expertise of Velo for printing in combination with the knowledge and experience of the CM for post processing including machining, heat treat, surface finishing, inspection, and testing to deliver a final finished component. Once a proposed offer is all set, our engineer works with the CM and a dedicated CM account manager to keep everything on track through the development print phase.

After the development print is complete, the Velo3D engineer works with the company on next steps and lessons learned to move the successful design into production. Our team will also investigate and roadmap additional design projects or part categories that benefit through the metal AM process. Throughout this entire workflow the engineer leverages Velo’s in-house experts to solve any potential challenges that arise.

The Velo3D Difference

With other metal AM solutions, too often companies are happy to take your business to produce a part or sell you a machine outright without fully understanding your needs, the capabilities of the technology for your purposes, or how they plan to approach printing your components.

Where Velo3D stands head and shoulders above the industry is our commitment to the success of our partners; and our business development team is a major part of that. By understanding the full scope of your project and, more importantly, ensuring that you understand the full scope of your project and how metal AM fits into your workflow, we’re able to create a foundation of understanding that can accomplish the project at hand as well as set you up for success in future metal AM projects.

To truly make the most of metal 3D printing, you need a partner. Velo3D’s team of experts is committed to helping organizations navigate the ins and outs of this complicated industry. Because we know that when you succeed, we all succeed.

If you’re looking to learn more about how a partnership with Velo3D can transform your approach to metal AM, contact us today.

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About the Author

Zach Walton

Director, Technical Business Development

Zach Walton is Director, Technical Business Development at Velo3D. Before joining Velo3D, Zach worked multiple positions at Halliburton Energy Services ranging from R&D Engineer to Product Manager. He holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University and has over 70 granted patents.